Are Korean fish cakes gluten free?

Are Korean fish cakes gluten free?

Eomuk (어묵) are a style of fish cake that’s popular in Korea. Unfortunately, most eomuk are NOT gluten free. Korean fish cakes almost always contain wheat flour, and sometimes use flavorings that contain gluten as well. In this article we’ll provide links to gluten free substitutes and include some recipes for eomuk that can be made gluten free.

fish cakes

Boiled eomuk from Naver

Fish cakes in Korea originated from Japan, and became common during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Besides eomuk, another name for them in Korea is odeng (오뎅), which is a variation of the name for a Japanese dish called oden (おでん, 御田) that includes fish cakes. A style of stir-fried banchan called eomuk-bokkeum (어묵볶음) is a popular way to serve these fish cakes. Eomuk are also used in Korean dishes like eomuk guk (어묵국), gimbap (김밥), and tteokbokki (떡볶이).

Eomuk ingredients usually include: surimi (fish paste), wheat flour, starch, vegetables like carrots and onions, egg white, sugar, salt, and other flavorings, like MSG. This mixture is shaped into sheets, skewers, or nuggets. The fish cakes are then boiled, steamed, or fried. Most eomuk are fried, which which gives them a golden brown color and bubbly surface. Eomuk’s flavor is mild and fishy, with a spongy texture and slight chew, similar to tofu skin.

Buy Gluten Free Eomuk Options

From my research, it’s very rare to find premade eomuk that are gluten free. There’s one gluten free Korean fish cake option linked below, the rest are tofu skin. Because the texture of eomuk sheets are similar to tofu skin aka yuba (두부껍질), these make a great vegan and gluten free substitute. Check your local H-Mart or Asian grocery for the cheapest options.

fish cakes

A variety of eomuk from This is Korea Tours

Gluten Free Eomuk Recipes

Most eomuk recipes can easily be made gluten free by subbing out the wheat flour for a gluten free flour. Tofu skin also aren’t too tricky to make at home, in case you want a vegan option.

Recipes That Use Eomuk

Making Korean food gluten free can require lots of substitutes, but it’s worth it! If you cook gluten free Korean food at home, then you’ll already have things like gf gochujang, soy sauce, and oyster sauce on hand. If you don’t yet, no worries! We have articles to help you find gluten free versions of each ingredient that needs to be subbed.

fish cakes

Fish cake soup from Yori Sense

* Title image courtesy of Masterclass.

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